Day two in Tel Aviv was very similar to day one. We ate outstanding food, we walked around, we rented bikes, we cycled, and we ate more food! I can’t tell you how nice the sunshine felt on my skin after a long winter in Amsterdam!When we left the house on our second morning, Kai was holding the camera and caught me basking in the sun – I love these photos because I had no idea my picture was being taken, and I was genuinely just enjoying the warm sun on my skin. Man, I am really missing those sweet rays right now (for forecast in Amsterdam is freezing rain for the next ten days straight . . . ) Ohh, and hello again to this adorable kitty cat!On day one, Kai and I had skirted around Old Jaffa while making our way to the beach, so on day two, we decided to stay local and weave our way towards the old town.Although it was a Sunday, the city was incredibly quiet and serene. Where were all of the people?This question was soon answered, as it turns out everyone was conjugating at Abouelafia Bakery! Abouelafia’s is one of the most famous bakeries in Tel Aviv. They have a reputation for being delicious, and so we had to sample their treats for ourselves!We got in line, debated what pastries to order, and then pointed to this and that as the window worker bagged up our bounty.There were so many amazing treats to choose from, and I was mesmerized by both the selection and the open bakery, where two men cut off big chunks of dough, rolled it out, and then quickly slid it into the oven on a long wooden paddle to bake!Big bag of pastries in hand, we strolled down the block to a quiet bench and sat down to enjoy our breakfast treats.What a carby feast!After breakfast, we made our way through the flea markets. This was a painful experience, as I’d only brought a small backpack on the trip, and it was clear these beautiful antiques would not be making it home with me!Clearly sand storms are a thing here!Even the gas stations in Tel Aviv are beautiful! Flanked by fruit trees and sandstone buildings. We made ourway into an ice cream shoppe for iced coffee, and I HAD to snap a photo of this lush cheese cake ice cream!Finally, we weaved our way into the old town, and were delighted to find that it was peaceful and all ours.The old town was stunning, overflowing with blooming florals, bright shutters, and palm trees. The architecture was a blend of old and new, with newer buildings seamlessly blending in with the old. It reminded me of Amsterdam – a city with a rich history and a uniform architectural style throughout
I asked Kai to take a photo of me on this street by all of the pretty flowers.He then asked me to do the same for him . . . and was a total smart ass and pretended to be me, posing as he walked down the street! . . . . and then just proved to be even more awesome at it ;)And a second with my hat ;)The many alleyways of Ola Jaffa are a wonder to explore, with a labyrinth of art galleries, vibrant flowers, and sandstone buildings.Kai not only poses better than me for the camera, he also looks better in my hat!After a few hours of wandering, we stopped for a giant plate of watermelon and an Aperol spritz along the water – vacation baby!Following our drink, we made a quick pit stop at the apartment to change, as we were hot and sticky from a humid day in the sun.We then went back to Bistro 60 – our favorite restaurant from the day before – and met some of Kai’s friends who just so happened to be in town! We enjoyed a coffee in the sun (are you noticing a theme here?!) and spent some time catching up with our Amsterdam friends in Tel Aviv! It was then time for a sunset bike ride :)We picked up two city bikes (Tel Aviv has an amazing bike scheme!) and cycled towards Florentin, Tel Aviv’s hipster neighborhood with boho cafes, street art, and shady streets.We cycled through the neighborhood, stopping so I could take photos of art and Kai could eat frozen yogurt ;)
Peace.We are one below the stars.Eventually we both started feeling a bit peckish, and decided to stop at Bicicletta, an Italian restaurant with a dreamy outdoor terrace, for some early-evening appetizers! Although food was awesome (OMG the eggplant fries – get the eggplant fries!) we held back on stuffing our stomachs, as we wanted to save ourselves for the Israeli specialties while in Israel!We had been told by a few friends that The Old Man and the Sea was THE place to go for dinner in Tel Aviv – and boy were they right! However, it seems everyone else was thinking the same. While our day had been quiet and serene, we were confronted with a HUGE line outside the restaurant. Thankfully, it moved pretty fast, and within 30 minutes we were seated at a table, with plate after plate of meze appearing for us to enjoy! I think I counted 22 dishes in total, overflowing with fresh vegetables, dips, falafel, beans, herbs, and stewed eggplant.And so we slowly started pecking away – enjoying a feast of many flavors and colors We asked for more pita bread, and seconds later a new basket of warm bread appeared at our table. It was a fantastic end to our second evening in Tel Aviv, and an awesome experience I’d recommend to anyone looking to sample some of Israel’s best dishes!We went to bed VERY full that night. But thankfully, we had done a LOT of walking and biking in the daytime as well :)On day 3 in Tel Aviv, we woke up, packed our bags, and make our way to the bakery where we ordered – yep! – more pastries!However, this time around, we stopped at a local baker instead of braving our way through the hoards of people at Abouelafia’s (which to be fair, was outstanding, but a tad stressful!) We enjoyed our breakfast while strolling through the sun in our neighborhood – one last gander through the local hood before grabbing our bags and saying goodbye to our sweet boho apartment.Our second stop that day was for hummus! Our Airbnb was very close to Abu Hassan, a restaurant rumored to have the best hummus in town.I can confirm this is true :) It seemed like everyone in the neighborhood had stopped in for lunch, with painters on their break and tourists, like us, sitting side by side, scooping up heaps of hummus with warm pita bread. Kai got the traditional hummus and I got the msabbaha, which was served warm and with a generous portion of chickpeas stirred into the creamy dish. My mouth had found its soulmate, and together we finished the entire bowl!Following our hummus feast, we picked up yet another pair of rental bikes and cycled over to Tel Aviv Central Bus Station, where we would be catching a bus to Jerusalem later that afternoon. The journey from Tel Aviv to Jerusalem is a quick 50 minute bus ride, and you can grab a ticket last minute at the station. But be warned – the bus station is a MAZE, with multiple floors and hallways – and it’s pretty dingy and gross. We wanted to quickly store our bags in the lockers at the station so we could wander hands free for a few final hours in Tel Aviv, but it took us nearly 40 minutes alone to find the lockers in the station! In hindsight, we should have just caught the bus then and there, it was all such a production! But none the less, we paid €12 to pop our bags into the lockers for a few hours, and then hit the streets of Tel Aviv one final time to explore the nearby Carmel Market.It reminded me of the Albert Cuyp Market in Amsterdam (a market I smile fondly at the thought of, as I lived above it for seven years!) alive with local sights, sounds, and smells. We walked through the stalls, which sold a mix of knick knacks and souvenirs, bread, spices, and fresh produce.
Ohh, and tiny pineapples!
Wow, what an amazing experience we had in Tel Aviv. It was such a surprise and delight to discover – from the numerous beaches to some of the best food I’ve had in my life, this city really won me over. I can’t wait to share the final Israel installment with you, and hopefully one day in the near future, I will have even more Tel Aviv tales to tell! Until then :)